Will Cheung Shoots Marco Photography With The Help Of MPB
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By TXS  
Boomer, an Australian Kelpie, takes on the slalom at a dog agility event in New Zealand

Tags: Dog Event Action New zealand Pets and captive animals



mrswoolybill Plus
16 4.1k 2606 United Kingdom
4 Oct 2015 8:21AM
Hi Terry, welcome to ePHOTOzine, I see that you have just joined and this is your first upload. I hope you will enjoy it here - it's a great place to share and to learn.

You have joined as a beginner, and uploaded to the Critique Gallery, which is where you forego the chance of votes and awards in the hope of receiving helpful advice. I hope that this was your intention? The important thing is that there is a very wide range of experience and interests here, you will find an answer to questions. So feel free to ask!

The first thing that hits me is that this was taken on a 50mm lens so you were close to the action! Well done for getting a well timed shot, with the dog's face visible.

The face is sharper than the rest of the animal which is good. It's not as sharp as it could be. I wonder how you focused? First of all, I hope that you are only using one focusing point, that's important! Not a pattern spread out over the frame...

A slightly higher ISO setting (that's light sensitivity) would cover the increase in shutter speed. You could easily go up to 200 ISO here without a noticeable loss of image quality.

I have not photographed this activity, but my inclination would be to pre-focus on the second or third pole from the camera and wait for the dog to reach that point.

You used a scene mode, Action (high speed), it gave you a fast shutter speed but I suspect not fast enough to capture the dog's movement from side to side, this close to the camera. I would want 1/1000 second or faster... That means taking a bit more control over the camera, telling it precisely what you want. If you think about Action photography, there is a lot of difference between this and say bowls! Basically, as with any sophisticated electronic device (satnav, microwave... ) the quality of the results depends on how precisely you give instructions.

You have done some selective work to blur the background top right, but the divide is too sudden, it has left a hard outline, visible down the sides of the poles as well as along the grass. That can be softened. I would advise that you keep any such manipulation to a low setting, and watch your edges very carefully!

A little bit of dodging and burning on the face, and particularly the eyes, would help - if you have them in your software, the dodge tool is used to lighten areas selectively (choose between working on shadows, midtones and highlights), the burn tool to darken similarly. They are powerful tools, I prefer to set the strength to a very low level, around 3% to 4%, and build up gently.

A bit of sharpening will also help - apply after resizing for uploading to the internet.

I shall upload a modification in a little while, it will appear under the modifications button below your upload. Click on the thumbnail to view.

Hope this helps,
mrswoolybill Plus
16 4.1k 2606 United Kingdom
4 Oct 2015 8:42AM
Two modifications uploaded, with notes. I have added a tighter crop - all the action is in the left side of the frame in the original, the crop contains it. I think that is appropriate given the tight, confined manoeuvres that the dog has to perform.

And apologies for the slip above, taken at 50mm not on a 50mm lens... I also managed to get things in the wrong order, the ISO comment should appear lower down, it links in with shutter speed...
pablophotographer 11 2.2k 444
4 Oct 2015 10:30AM
Hello Terry, welcome aboard.

It's a decent picture of a very fast moving pet while performing a timed task. Moira has mentioned a lot about the picture itself, so it could not be good to be repetitive. I have not looked at your profile so I do not know your level of skill you believe you have.

I see from the metadata you have used the ''Action scene''. I suspect your picture here is cropped , please do give us feedback so we both get to understand photography a little bit more. Did I say both? I should have said ''all'' meaning all of us who will get to see the picture and try to understand it better so we improve our skills.

I would suggest you though to try to avoid try using the scene modes as you can learn more by taking control of the camera yourself, rather than letting camera decide critical parameters, like ISO for example. Here, despite of all the huge experience and knowledge the people in Canon have, the camera has chosen a rather slow sensitivity to light. As a direct result the picture would take longer to be recorded by the sensor. ISO setting I allows you to set the sensitivity of your camera's sensor to light. Low ISO values like 25, 50. 100, 125 should be used when there is plenty of light, a good sunny day outdoors and the subject of the frame is motionless. A 200 ISO could be chosen for cloudy overcast days and outdoors, while the 400, 800 and above for indoors, heavy overcast days, evenings, nights, indoors, and sport scenes. Of course the light your sensor will need to gather will be influenced by the Aperture you choose. Open at f/1.8 for example a lens will gather light faster than if it was set at f/16, where the blades close down. I listen many people returning from tutors who tell them to use their cameras in Aperture Priority Mode (A). There is some true in the validity of this, as the setting of the Aperture value will allow the Depth of field in the frame. But, Try first to grasp the issue of Light and set the correct ISO corresponding to the lighting conditions and then set the Aperture. People tend to forget that at the times of film photography the first thing you pondered was what film sensitivity (ISO) to choose to load your camera with. And then you set the aperture.

Sport or fast moving action pictures require high sensitivity to light and thus high ISO. If you are new to photography I would suggest you do more still shots in the beginning so you grasp the issues of ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed settings and their interrelation.

iancrowson 13 215 169 United Kingdom
4 Oct 2015 12:54PM
Good capture, interesting action image.
Looking at the grass and posts I think your focusing was about OK.
The photo is maybe a crop from larger and has lost sharpness somewhere.?
Photo shows as being a little under exposed in levels.
It you had looked at the histogram in camera you would have noticed that the graph did not reach the right hand side. This indicates under exposure.
I've done a mod (click on modifications above) where I have made a couple of adjustments in Photoshop levels. I moved the right hand point to the left. This goes towards correcting for under exposure. i also moved the middle mark to right to increase mid tones contrast.
I also tried sharpening whole image but this did not help.
I also made the post vertical although this is a very minor consideration in an action photo.

banehawi Plus
19 2.9k 4354 Canada
4 Oct 2015 1:54PM
Hi Terry, welcome to EPZ.

You have good feedback above already.

This is a close crop from a wider image, and when you do that, you amplify ISO noise. Theres not a lot at ISO 125, but whatever is there will be more apparent; better to use the zoom to get closer.

The exposure is at least a full stop under, BUT since we dont see the rest of the image, its difficult to assess why it would be underexposed to such an extent. Typically, if the scene contains bright subjects, the camera can tend to underexpose, unless you use Exposure Compensation to tell it to add exposure (a + compensation). With underexposure, the noise in dark and shadow area will be more pronounced that when properly exposed.

Use a soft brush in Elements to avoid obvious hard edges that a hard brush will cause as mentioned.

You will pick up lots of useful tips and feedback as you continue; if you have any questions, or dont understand anything here, juts leave a comment and we will reply.

I did upload a mod, - scroll up and click the modifications tab to view. Its got exposure increased quite a lot, with the dogs eyes and mouth sharper.

I also loaded a second mod with the sharp line in the grass softened so you can see the difference; I used the close brush to cover the edge with existing grass.


dudler Plus
19 2.1k 2018 England
4 Oct 2015 3:11PM
And just a welcome from me, Terry - I have no advice to add to the excellent stuff above. I hope to see more soon!
paulbroad 15 131 1294 United Kingdom
4 Oct 2015 5:03PM
I hate following Willie! Nothing left to say!

This is a good effort. Many years ago I did a lot of photography for the local dog agility club. They won Krufts once. This was in the days of film so no instant checking. You have two problems enhanced by what I guess is a very tight crop.

You are under exposed by quite a bit. always check on your LCD after a few shots. +1 stop compensation would help here.

The image is a bit soft. The dog willbe able to beat your 1/640 and an aperture of f8 would give a bit more depth of field. You will not sharpen subject movement in software. Up the ISO. Sharp and grainy is better than unsharp. Could be at 800.

Try focusing manally on one post, thenrelease theshutter just a fraction of a second before the dog reaches it. The failure rate for an expert can be quite high.

TXS 7 29 New Zealand
5 Oct 2015 2:20AM
Thanks Moira, Pablo, Ian, Willie and Paul.

I never expected to get so much useful feedback. I stumbled across a link to ePHOTOzine site while doing a web search for information on light meters, after I had been having exposure problems when shooting in low-light conditions (up until now I have always relied on the camera's inbuilt system). Anyway, after looking at the high quality of some of the images posted by some of your members, I decided to give your site a try. I had been with another site some years ago but I never really got much out of it, it seemed to me that most members only posted their images for points to feed their egos.

I still call myself a beginner even though I have been taking photos for more than 50 years. I live in a small town in New Zealand (pop. about 5000) and like to take photos of community events. I have a web site (www.comunityimages.co.nz) where I post many of my images; I also supply images to our local newspaper and other community organisations.

Moira was right about me being “close’, I was about 3 metres away when i shot Boomer (I always like shooting close), although sometimes this can be problematic, like the time when a dog overshoot the last pole and ended up in my lap. I also got low for this shot so that my lens was at about the same height as the dogs head. This club is hosting another event this weekend so I will be there trying some of the things that you have suggested.

One of reasons I chose to shoot with the camera set in a “Basic Mode’ is that with a lot of events I don’t have a lot of control over my subjects and I often find that have to shoot spontaneously, there is usually no time to reset the camera. Because of this I have got into the habit of shooting this way. However I can now see that this is not always going to be a good idea, and as you have all pointed out, I need to take more control over my camera.

The other point is that I do a certain amount of editing (I use Photoshop Elements10) but it is now clear to me now that I need to improve my editing techniques. I am also not sure whether your comments regarding exposure are related to my camera settings or my editing, because I frequently alter the brightness and contrast during my editing process.

I will be uploading another photo shortly and I would really appreciate your comments.

Many thanks for all your feedback, it has been very useful. My biggest regret is that I didn’t discover this site earlier.

mrswoolybill Plus
16 4.1k 2606 United Kingdom
5 Oct 2015 7:53AM
Thanks for excellent feedback - we really love to hear back from people! I'm glad that our input has helped. This site is a n excellent place to learn - and we are all still learning here, all the time. I hope we shall see some more from you after the next event.

Regarding exposure - if you are shooting into the light the background light will easily deceive the camera's brain into underexposing on your subject. Check out the exposure compensation command on your camera - a small plus compensation here, +0.7 perhaps, would have helped. Dark fur is always tricky, though easier to adjust later than white fur in sunlight!

I photograph a lot of events - I know that one has to be able to respond quickly. But the more practised you are with settings the quicker you can adjust them.

By all means upload your edited images, but if you have done a fair amount of editing it's a good idea to upload the original file too. You can add it as a modification, in the same way as we have done - just click on the Modifications button, then on Upload a modification.

I should have included in my comment - it's great that you are getting down to the dog's eye level, that's important!

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